Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Simple Gifts

Edie has begun memorizing things.  She sings along to her favorite song about the moon, and the other night she surprised James and me by reading her whole bedtime book--right words, right pages.  We were duly impressed.

The other night I was putting her to bed.  I could tell she had a ways to go before she got tired, so I started in on my lullabies.  I think everyone sings something different to their children, depending on what they like, or, probably more importantly, what they happen to remember the words to.

I sing her one of my favorite hymns, How Gentle God's Commands, but, with a two extra verses.  Did you know that one of Emily Dickinson's poems has the same meter as that hymn?  I didn't, until an English class at BYU-I sophomore year.

So, I started in, and suddenly, Edie started singing too,

The Bustle in the House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted opon Earth--

The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity--

All the words.

Then, she turned her head toward me and sang along with every lullaby I sing, Silver Dagger, Simple Gifts, and all four of the actual verses of How Gentle God's Commands.

It was as though she's been listening for two years, very carefully, making sure she knew all the words, so she could make a really grand gesture.

And it worked.  I could barely sing for the half-laughing, half-crying.  How could she know those words?  How could she sing those words in her baby voice, So seek another tender maiden, and hope that she will be your bride?

She hasn't done it since, at night she's kept her head down and her pacifier in.  I tried to get her to do it again the other day, but, unsurprisingly, she just glanced at me and kept running, intent on something else entirely.


  1. Yes yes yes. It is incredible. How could they have this all memorized without telling us or practicing it all the time or something? Hollie has surprised us similarly, but she will never perform on cue (like when we're trying to capture her singing on video). It is reassuring somehow that even though these little girls might not understand the words they've memorized, I think they know the spirit of them. And it's comforting that the words are there—retrievable later as the vocabulary comes.

    It's been humbling for me to consider what else she might have secretly been gleaning from us had we been super negative or cynical or cusswordy around her all this time, too. I'm glad that I have little to regret thus far! Two-year-olds are teaching me to never underestimate the alertness and awareness of little kids.

    This is a beautiful post.

  2. Emily Dickinson to the tune of How Gentle God's Commands? Pshah. Does she know the girls camp version to the same tune?
    I know how ugly I are.
    My face it ain't no star.
    But I do not mind it
    for I am behind it
    you folks out in front
    get the jar (har, har).

  3. I sit an marvel over the individual perfection of each of your daughter's features—mouth, cheeks, nose, eyes. Brain.